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How to Buy and Cook a Great Steak

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If you love meat, then you probably agree there’s nothing quite so delicious as eating a great steak. The trouble is, steak is expensive, and many amateur chefs end up disappointed with the end result, sometimes.

Because they don’t know how to properly prepare a steak, but more often because they don’t know how to purchase a great cut.

 

Where to Purchase Steaks

Purchase steak from a butcher counter whenever possible. The selection at the butcher’s is usually better (and fresher) than at a grocery store. If you must buy your steak pre-packaged in a b, watch the sell by date closely and avoid steaks sopping with liquid.

Great steaks can also be purchased online, but quality varies widely from company to company. Allen Brothers is widely accepted as a source of superior steaks.

Where to Purchase Steaks

 

How Do You Read Steak Labels?

Buy the best grade you can afford. Here’s what you need to know about steak labels.

Prime

Prime is the highest quality, but is difficult to find. Only about 2% of all beef found in the U.S.A. is graded Prime by the USDA and most of that ends up in restaurants.

 

Choice

The next best selection is Choice, which is considerably better than the next level, which is “Select.”

 

Certified Black Angus (CAB)

In addition to a USDA grade, some steaks are marked “Certified Black Angus” or “CAB.” Only about 8% of U.S. beef qualifies as CAB, but because these are of high quality, packaging on many lesser quality meats try to make you think they are CAB.

 

Certified Black Angus

However, if the label reads something other than “Certified Black Angus” (for example, if it’s marked “Black Angus Beef,” “Angus,” or “Certified Beef”), it’s not high enough quality to truly be CAB.

Steak Labels

 

How Do you Test Steak

Begin by looking for a steak that isn’t deep red or turning gray. A fresh steak should be a shade of light, bright red. While you’re at it, give the steak a poke with your finger. It should feel firm.

You also want to see some creamy white marbling; narrow strands of fat should run through the steak and will impart much better flavor than steaks with almost no fat. Wide areas of fat, however, make for a less tender steak.

Examining Steaks

 

How to Cut Steak

Tenderloin provides the most tender steak. This is the area from which filet mignon, chateaubriand, and tournedos come from. However, it’s not as flavorful as rib-eye, rib steak, or sirloin cuts.

Also examine the thickness of the steak. A cut that’s less than 1 inch will probably be too dry. A perfect steak, on the other hand, is between 1 and 1 ½ inches thick.

Which Cut

 

How to Cook Steaks

Before cooking any steak, let it come to room temperature. A cold steak thrown onto heat will end up tough.

Once the steak is at room temperature (30 to 60 minutes after removing it from the refrigerator), pat it dry with paper towels. It must be thoroughly dry before you begin cooking or you’ll end up steaming the meat, making it bland and tough.

Season the steak as desired, but avoid salt. Salt brings the moisture in the steak to the surface – again resulting in tough and bland meat. However, if you want to improve an inferior steak, use sea or kosher salt to cover both sides of the meat.

How to Cook Steaks

Allow the steak to sit at room temperature for an hour. With water, completely rinse off the salt. Pat the steaks dry again. This simple procedure can make a Choice cut of beef taste like it’s Prime.

Dry heat is the best way to cook a steak because it causes the meat to caramelize, offering richer and more complex flavor. To grill a steak, first spray the grill with oil. Flip the steak just once, grilling about 4 to 5 minutes on each side for medium doneness (130 degrees F). Allow the steak to sit 15 minutes before eating.

To roast a steak in the oven, place an ovenproof skillet in the oven and preheat to 500 degrees F. Once the oven reaches 500 degrees, remove the skillet and place it on the range, over high heat. Place the steak in the pan (don’t add any oil). Cook 1 or 2 minutes, then turn and cook another 1 or 2 minutes. Remove the skillet from the range and place it in the oven.

Cook for 3 to 5 minutes. When the steaks reach the desired level of doneness, remove the skillet from the oven, cover loosely with foil, and allow to rest for about 8 minutes before serving.

 

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